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There's No Telling What He'll Do

As Speculation Grows, Spurrier Offers Few Revelations on His Redskins Future

By Nunyo Demasio

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, December 29, 2003; Page D01


Only a few minutes after their season-ending meeting began yesterday, the Washington Redskins left Redskins Park lugging black plastic bags filled with the contents of their emptied locker stalls.

Coach Steve Spurrier gave his players no clues about what changes he intends to make in his coaching staff. Instead, Spurrier summed up the season, emphasizing the close losses (six games by four points or less) and warning players about personal safety in the offseason.

"Ain't much to talk about," said linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, grinning.

That hasn't been the case in recent days, as speculation has centered on Spurrier's future with the club. But he didn't give his staff any signal during their morning meeting -- perhaps the best evidence thus far that Spurrier hasn't made up his mind.

How much will Spurrier revamp his coaching staff? Will he opt instead to walk away from the team with three years left on his contract? Will Spurrier insist on alterations in the front-office structure?

At his season-ending news conference at noon, Spurrier -- although more upbeat than usual -- offered few revelations beyond his cryptic remarks of the past few days, reiterating his intention to announce changes as they develop, within the next two weeks.

Spurrier and his wife, Jerri, were scheduled to leave this morning for a two-week break in Florida, and Spurrier plans on using the time to make his moves after a 5-11 season.

"There were some teams worse than us. I guess that's one positive way to look at it," said Spurrier, who guided the Redskins to their worst record since 1994. "We weren't the worst team in the league. But we weren't very good and we're disappointed. [The] offseason is here, so we'll try to regroup and make this team and this franchise better."

Spurrier's NFL record is 12-20 (including 2-10 in the NFC East) after two seasons. The offense has regressed, dropping from last season's NFL ranking of 20th to 24th entering Saturday's 31-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Under Spurrier's hand-picked coordinator, George Edwards, the defense swooned from fifth to 23rd -- the first time in five seasons that the unit hasn't been in the top 10.

Yesterday, Spurrier often spoke as if his return was certain: planning to rejuvenate the Fun 'n' Gun; citing the need for a "big-time" tailback and upgrades at tight end and along the defensive line. However, the biggest mystery remains who will be coaching those players.

Spurrier spoke with owner Daniel Snyder last night at FedEx Field after the season finale. But the meeting was described as routine by a Redskins official.

According to the official, Snyder remains as anxious as everyone else about the future of the coaching staff. Snyder and Spurrier -- who is likely to seek more roster control -- have yet to schedule a meeting to address next season. They plan to attend the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, although they will arrive separately.

Snyder has been adamant about retaining Spurrier, whose five-year, $25 million contract -- the richest in NFL history for a coach -- expires in 2006. According to sources close to Snyder, the owner won't offer a buyout, meaning that Spurrier would have $15 million left on his deal if he quit. (Spurrier's return would make him the first coach to last more than two seasons since Snyder bought the team in 1999.) When Spurrier met with his assistants yesterday, a few thought he would reveal his decisions on staffing for next season. But according to a source with knowledge of the meeting, Spurrier told the coaches to remain reachable by cell phone over the next week, causing some frustration among a few assistants with uncertain futures.

The contracts of almost all of Spurrier's assistants expire in early February. Quarterbacks coach Noah Brindise's deal doesn't end until next year. (Brindise signed a two-year contract before the season after Spurrier persuaded him to turn down an offer from East Carolina to become its offensive coordinator.)

Edwards and offensive line coach Kim Helton are the assistants whose jobs are believed to be in most jeopardy. Yesterday, Edwards and Helton exited through the back door at Redskins Park. When Helton was approached, he declined to comment, and Edwards left before he could be questioned.

The sentiment within management is that Spurrier can find success in the NFL with more experienced coaches. However, since Spurrier has full control of his staff and is extremely loyal, the situation must be handled delicately to ensure his return. "He would force them to fire him in a heartbeat if they told him exactly what to do," said a person close to Spurrier who requested anonymity. "So I don't see them forcing his hand."

Spurrier is known for keeping his feelings under wraps and being difficult to read. After a dozen glorious seasons at the University of Florida, Spurrier stunned the school by resigning in January 2002, shortly after an Orange Bowl victory over Maryland.

If Spurrier returns to the Redskins next season, he intends to have more of a disciplinary streak. Spurrier admits to being more demanding of his players at Florida because he assumed that NFL players would exhibit more professionalism. Spurrier has few rules beyond a $20 fine for cursing -- with an exemption on game day. "Hopefully, I can get to my old style a little bit more," said Spurrier before adding with a grin: "Don't let the inmates run the asylum."

But right tackle Jon Jansen said: "In my opinion, it's always easier to loosen it up than it is to tighten up. It'll be a challenge."

Trotter contends that there has been too much unprofessionalism off the field, which was reflected in the club's record. "It starts with guys walking in late, cell phones ringing, all that type of stuff," Trotter said. "We play the same way we practice. If we practice half-speed, then we get out there and play half-speed."

Trotter added, "Our problems go way beyond the field."

But Spurrier disagreed that there were rampant issues with professionalism, countering the problems were mainly on the field. During Saturday's debacle, the Redskins quietly set a team record of 124 penalties in a season, eclipsing the mark of 122 reached during a 12-game season in 1948.

"Obviously, when you have a disappointing season, changes are going to be made," Spurrier said. "We all know that."

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Originally posted by bubba9497

There's No Telling What He'll Do

As Speculation Grows, Spurrier Offers Few Revelations on His Redskins Future

Said Spurrier before adding with a grin: "Don't let the inmates run the asylum."

Checks first to see if Om is lurking on the board. :paranoid: I'm already in control of this asylum. :laugh: I think I'll sue for plagarism, if I ever learn how to spell it. :laugh:

But right tackle Jon Jansen said: "In my opinion, it's always easier to loosen it up than it is to tighten up. It'll be a challenge."

During Saturday's debacle, the Redskins quietly set a team record of 124 penalties in a season, eclipsing the mark of 122 reached during a 12-game season in 1948.

No regression, eh? This team is in big trouble again, if Spurrier returns. :(

With our luck Spurrier will probably take two weeks to make up his mind, and by that time all the good assistant coaches around the league will have re-signed with other teams. :(

I dont like being kept in limbo for two weeks. I can't take it any more. :cry: :doh1:

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Let's hope that Spurrier does take his time and then finally calls it quits after other teams have talked to and signed their coaches leaving us as the only ones left out there without a coach so we can go after Romeo Crennel of the Patriots since he won't be able to take a job until their done with their Superbowl run.

Damn, was that just one sentence? Sorry. I just got a little excited about Spurrier leaving. I've been on his bandwagon for most of the season and believed he should return but these past two weeks have left me very bitter and he needs to move on.

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I just wish the merry go round will end.

Spurrier's comments about not being the worst team in the league are tin pan alley sarcasm.

If finishing ahead of the Cardinals and Chargers, consistent losers for years, is a positive it is in the way that your in-laws tell you they will only be visiting for a week instead of TWO weeks :laugh: :laugh:

I don't think there is anyone on this board that realistically thinks we can merely return this staff intact along with this roster and be a top team.

There have to be changes. Spurrier intimated as much himself.

But if he is not going to begin the process by admitting what shortcomings he has to address in his own approach and that of the staff (including some firings) this is just going to be another BS PR offseason where the team makes some feel good moves on paper only to be let down once the season starts.

Pardon me for not having much confidence in a coach that decides he is finally going to start docking players for being 'unprofessional', ie missing team meeting the last week of the bloody season! :mad:

The truth is that players like Flemister and Chamberlain as well as Russell and Kenyatta Jones are questionable characters.

They are not guys that you can count on to produce at 100% unless you ride them.

And even then a coach like Parcells or Bellichick probably wouldn't take them.

We need to stop being the halfway house for everyone else's refuse :)

There is a difference between signing a Jessie Armstead, a solid citizen who shows up as a pro for 16 weeks, and signing the trash players I listed above.

Spurrier and the front office have to come together to ensure we don't sign any more of these questionable contributors.

Moreover, the team has to be seen as willing to let players go when they consistently break the rules or criticize the coaching staff.

It is the irony of ironies that Trotter is the one to talk about the 'loose' ship that was run here in 2003.

By my reckoning, Trotter was one of the defensive players whose sometimes reckless and risky style of play led to some early defeats for the club and started the downslide to 5-11.

You would figure a 2 time pro bowler who other players should be looking up to would set a better example than that.

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You know, I'd offer Snyder the same advice I'd offer Spurrier. Screw the critics. Screw the media. To thy self, be true. If ever there were a time where it would be appropriate for Dan Snyder to be the demanding tyrant so many of you accuse him of being, now is the time.

Were I Dan Snyder, theres no way in hell I let Steve Spurrier take a leisurely 2 week sabbatical to 'consider his options'. Here's the conversation I'd have had IMMEDIATELY following the Eagles loss:

'Look Steve...its been a horrible year for us, but you ARE my guy. I don't give a rat's @ss what the media or anyone else says, you have my FULL confidence. We're going to prove all of the naysayers wrong and shove their words down their throats. But I need to hear from you RIGHT NOW that you're coming back next year. No waffling, no 'I'm going to take some time off....', etc...We're either going out there side by side and announce that we're going to fight through this thing together, or we're going out there and announcing your resignation. I'm with you 100% but I want to hear it from you right now...what's it going to be Steve...grind this thing out, make the changes we need to to right this ship and make all of our critics eat a $hit sandwich, or crawl back to Florida an NFL casualty?'

As it stands, Snyder's so concerned about 'his rep' that he's let this whole situation get away from him. He's paying the man an ungodly amount of money. He ought to have DEMANDED to know what Spurrier's intentions are, and have him commit publicly now.

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